This is a total wham episode in Nintendo’s history.
In a single day, Nintendo has made two huge announcements: the first is that they are entering the smartphone gaming market with DeNA – a Japanese mobile gaming company – and since DeNA have said that ‘all Nintendo IP will be eligible for development and exploration by the alliance,’ that means pretty much any Nintendo franchise can find its way onto app stores. However, Satoru Iwata said that that doesn’t mean every Nintendo franchise will leap onto smart devices, and also confirmed that such games won’t be straight ports; they will be original and optimized for smart devices.
As for which Nintendo IP will be used, we do not intend to make any exceptions. Potentially, any Nintendo IP could be used in our smart device software. On the other hand, as I just said, games on smart devices require ever-evolving services rather than just being a finished product. A combined effort will be necessary to operate them. People’s attention would only be dispersed if we simply increased the number of the titles we simultaneously released, and we could not expect to expand our business. Accordingly, we will narrow down the titles for development and operation to some extent.
Please also note that, even if we use the same IP on our dedicated video game systems and smart devices, we will not port the titles for the former to the latter just as they are. There are significant differences in the controls, strengths and weaknesses between the controllers for dedicated game systems and the touchscreens of smart devices. We have no intention at all to port existing game titles for dedicated game platforms to smart devices because if we cannot provide our consumers with the best possible play experiences, it would just ruin the value of Nintendo’s IP.
And, if I can talk a bit further about our game development plan, we will continue doing our best to develop dedicated game titles for our dedicated game hardware platforms just as we have been doing. For smart devices, even in the case where we utilize the same IP, we will create completely new game software that will perfectly match the play styles of smart devices.
As for how much this partnership is worth? According to DeNA:
As part of the long-term relationship and commitment by each company, Nintendo and DeNA have also agreed to form a capital alliance. Under the capital alliance, Nintendo will acquire 15,081,000 of DeNA’s treasury shares, which corresponds to 10.00 percent of its total outstanding stock, for a total of approximately 22 billion yen. DeNA will simultaneously acquire 1,759,400 of Nintendo’s treasury shares, which corresponds to 1.24 percent of its outstanding stock, for a total of approximately 22 billion yen. The payment is due April 2, 2015.
As for the second, and perhaps even bigger, announcement. In a bid to make it clear that Nintendo aren’t abandoning their own hardware, Iwata confirmed that Nintendo are working on a new system codenamed NX, of which details will arrive in 2016.
As proof that Nintendo maintains strong enthusiasm for the dedicated game system business, let me confirm that Nintendo is currently developing a dedicated game platform with a brand-new concept under the development codename “NX.” It is too early to elaborate on the details of this project, but we hope to share more information with you next year.
Additionally, the new Nintendo loyalty program was talked about, which will be usable across all Nintendo platforms, PCs and smart devices; this one also involves DeNA:
Nintendo, together with DeNA, will jointly develop a new membership service which encompasses the existing Nintendo 3DS and Wii U systems, the new hardware system with a brand-new concept, NX, and smart devices and PCs, and Nintendo will be the primary party to operate this new membership service. Unlike the Club Nintendo membership service that Nintendo has been operating, the new membership service will include multiple devices and create a connection between Nintendo and each individual consumer regardless of the device the consumer uses. This membership will form one of the core elements of the new Nintendo platform that I just mentioned.
The new loyalty program is set to launch this fall.
With two such earth-shaking announcements in a single press conference, who knows, maybe next they’ll tell us we’re getting a new Ice Climber game. If only.